Vanessa Bryant Pushes for Lawmakers to Pass Helicopter Safety Bill After Kobe and Gianna's Deaths


Vanessa Bryant is pushing for Congress to pass a new federal law aimed at improving helicopter safety in memory of her late husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act was introduced by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, according to CNN. The law would specifically require all helicopters certified to carry more than six people to be outfitted with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System and a flight data recorder, as well a cockpit voice recorder.

The Terrain Awareness and Warning System warns pilots when their aircraft is too close to the ground.

In a statement provided to CNN, Vanessa, 38, said, "I strongly urge that the United States Congress pass a federal law that would improve the safety of helicopters operating in this country. I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation."

She continued, "I believe that these safety measures will save many lives."

"As passengers traveling on aircrafts we assume that proper safety measures are in order to prevent accidents from happening before we fly," she told CNN in the statement. "It's unfortunate that this is not the case and aircraft companies must do their part to protect lives."

Representatives for Vanessa did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, died in a tragic helicopter accident in January. Along with Kobe and Gianna, the crash also claimed the lives of 13-year-old Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, 46, 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56 and Christina Mauser, 38.

The pilot, Ara Zobayan was also killed.

Days after the crash, California Rep. Brad Sherman introduced the bill to require the Federal Aviation Administration to strengthen federal safety standards for helicopters. According to CNN, the bill was updated after the Bryant family lawmakers to support it.

"Having Kobe's and Gianna's names associated with this federal law that has the potential to save countless lives would be a fitting tribute to their memory," Vanessa told CNN.

Vanessa is currently seeking extensive damages from the California helicopter company that owned the aircraft involved in the crash. Last week, her legal team submitted a case summary statement to Los Angeles Superior Court that details the extensive damages she is pursuing from her wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters.

While the documents, obtained by PEOPLE, do not specify the exact amount Bryant is seeking, it estimates the family has lost "hundreds of millions" in future earnings due to Kobe's untimely death.

Attorneys representing Bryant, Island Express Helicopters and Zobayan's family did not immediately return PEOPLE's requests for comment at the time.

The case summary statement also reveals Bryant is seeking a jury trial for the lawsuit, for which no date has been set.

Bryant initially filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters in February. In it, she claimed Zobayan “failed to properly monitor and assess the weather prior to takeoff,” “failed to abort the flight when he knew of the cloudy conditions,” and “failed to properly and safely operate the helicopter resulting in a crash," PEOPLE previously reported.

The complaint also claims that Island Express Helicopters “knew or should have known” that Zobayan had been previously cited by the FAA for violating “the visual flight rules minimums by flying into an area of reduced visibility from weather conditions.”

In May, attorneys representing Island Express Helicopters filed a response in Los Angeles that argued Kobe and Gianna "had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof" of riding in the aircraft, PEOPLE reported.

By stepping aboard the helicopter, the attorneys said the two "voluntarily assume the risk of the accident, injury, and damages."

This week, 1,700 pages of documents were released by the NTSB consisting of "factual information" gathered from their investigation into the crash. A final report is still forthcoming, but may not be ready until next year.

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